A Freund Remington
Frank and George Freund…Making Their Way To A New World
Frank and George Freund were German immigrants intoAmerica. As craftsmen in Europe were a dime a dozen, the two gunsmiths fell into westward migration inAmericaand finally set up shop inDenver,Colorado. Following the construction of the railroad, they had established their shops in various locations as the centers of commerce moved west. Some think that Frank had an association with Jim White, a notorious buffalo hunter where he is said to have done some buffalo hunting as well as gold prospecting. North Platte, Julesburg and laterDurango, all entertained Freund shops at one time or another. Frank was the inventor, and George was a fine craftsman, and the two complimented each other very well. The Freunds did not build complete rifles, but rather “improved” existing ones. Things such as adding a double extractor to the already popular Sharps buffalo rifle which allowed even pressure on the spent casing to ease extraction. Other improvements were sights, notably the “More Light Sights” which also became a Freund patent.
Users of Freund firearms were among the prominent citizens of the times. They included Civil War Generals Phil Sheridan, Edwin M. McCook, Wesley Merritt, and George Crook. The famous scout, John Phipps, who rode 236 miles in three days through a blizzard with the news of the Fetterman disaster packed one. John Hutton, friend of Jim Bridger, General George W. Wingate, President of the NRA 1886 to 1900, William F. Cody aka “Buffalo Bill”, Carl Schurz, Secretary of the Interior, Webb Hayes, grizzly hunter, Luke Vorhees, Supt. of Black Hills Stage Line, and C. F. Zimmerman, gunsmith and arms dealer in Dodge City, all whom were owners of Freund rifles. Also among the list were four professional hunters, George Riley, Harry Tount, John Terry, and J. A. Milne. Then there was Major J. H. Smith, known as “Hell Roaring Jake” Smith In later years. The Freunds also made improvements on rifles for Theodore Roosevelt.
Freund modified rifles cost more than the standard rifles of the day, and for this reason, it is not surprising that some of the owners of Freund rifles were men of distinction. It is also certain that any admirers of fine rifles, and fine craftsmanship will hold these rifles in great esteem. Add in a history coupled with excellent provenance to an historic figure and you have a real piece of history in your hands.
Freund and Remington…
Now for some trivial history on the Remington Rolling block. Leonard Geiger who worked for Remington Firearms, patented a single-shot, breech loading mechanism for use with metallic cartridges in 1863. Geiger’s design was modified by Joseph Rider, Remington’s Plant Supervisor in 1864. Further improvements of the design in 1865 and 1866 culminated in the Remington-Rider rolling block action. The Remington rolling block quickly became known as one of the strongest and most reliable actions of the era. While theUSmilitary contracts were small, foreign contracts from dozens of countries poured in.
Remington produced more than one and a half million rifles by the beginning of the 20th century, however, the development of repeating arms drastically reduced the military usefulness of the Rolling Block. None the less, these rifles were still being used by major powers through WWI and by smaller nations well into the 1930′s. The Remington Rolling Block, and the Sharps were without a doubt the world’s two most accurate rifle of the time and this was clearly demonstrated during the international rifle matches of 1874.
Pawn Shop Freund…
A Freund modified Remington came into my hands while perusing a local pawn shop one afternoon. Any item of antiquity always attracts my attention, but this one was different. I am familiar with most 19th century breach loaders, and hadn’t seen one quite like this one. The shop owner obviously didn’t know what it was as it became mine for the nominal price of $250. I completed the paperwork, opened my wallet, grabbed up the rifle and went home to research it’s history. It wasn’t until then that I was exposed to the realm of Freund modified firearms. A quick cast of the chamber told me is was made for the .50US Government, or .50/70. As the .50/70 is one of my favorite old time cartridges, I already had bullet molds, dies, cases and reloading data on hand. To my pleasure, I found it also liked many of the same loads that I had worked up for the 1868 Springfield Trapdoor.
Comparing it to my original 1869 Remington chambered in .43 Spanish, I attempted to figure out the extent of the modification. As near as I could tell, the only area affected seemed to be the breach/receiver retaining even the original trigger mechanism and guard, but the side plates were Freund manufacture. The original hammer looked the same but with the “wheel” ground off or removed. Instead of having to pull (roll)the breech block down, a hinged side plate was put in place which allowed the shooter to access the chamber by back by swinging the breach block to the right.
The only real advantage to the Freund design it that by placing pressure in a downward motion to the breach block while open creates a cam action to the extractor which will facilitate the removal of a stuck case should it occur.
Other than that, there is not real advantage of one over the other. They are both easily loaded with about the same speed and appear to be equally strong. From what I have read of the Freunds, extraction of stuck cases must have been somewhat of an issue at the time as several of their improvements were geared towards it.
I haven’t been able to tell if there have been any alterations to the sights (another area of Freund improvement), as they varied even from model to model on the Remington. Some sights flipped up forward, other backward but I have seen this on several rolling block models. From my understanding of the Freund “More light sight”, was just to allow for better sighting when using a tang sight by folding out of the way. It wasn’t an actual improvement to the sight itself.
All in all, my research into the Freund operation has left me with a better understanding of what it took to survive on the frontier in 19th centuryAmerica. Frank and George found that not only were their improved designs desired, it also gave them a name of trust and reliability. A good gunsmith was needed from day to day not only to fix guns, but as they were usually equally good blacksmiths, were needed fix many other broken implements as well. Not all of the Freunds work was expensive improvements for firearms, but anything else that could generate business, as money was scarce on the frontier.